LAHORE - State Minister for Narcotics Control and SAFRON Sheharyar Afridi has said, on Wednesday, that Tableeghi Jamaat Shoora had suspended all preaching activities within the country and abroad, to strengthen government’s efforts in containing COVID-19 pandemic.

Talking to the media after a meeting with the Tableeghi Jamaat leadership at the Press Information Department (PID) Regional office, he said that most of the Tableeghi Jamaat preachers including the foreigners had returned home after screening tests conducted by the districts governments, adding that the government had extended full support to ensure health and safety of all those involved in religious activity. Sheharyar Afridi, as Convenor ‘National Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Tableeghis and Zaireen’, held a meeting with the Tableeghi Jamaat Shoora members from Raiwind and brought them round to suspend all activities in the larger national interest.

To a question, he said all government departments were working in unison to bring back home 2,200 Pakistani Tableeghi Jamaat preachers from 35 countries of the world, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoF) had also paved the way for the safe return to 600 Pakistani prisoners from other countries. He said efforts were also being made to facilitate safe return of 40,000 Pakistani labourers from abroad.

The State Minister said the government was taking good care of all Tableeghi Jamaat preachers who had tested positive to coronavirus, adding that all suspected coronavirus patients would be allowed to go home after the result of their screening tests. “The state is like a mother and all are equal in its eye and it is facilitating all Pakistani preachers, home or abroad, to return to their homes”, he responded, adding that all pilgrims from Iran and Syria have been brought back to the country.

On the closure of mosques for worshipers, the State Minister said the government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan, would take decisions in consultation with the ulema and religious leaders from all schools of thought, adding that the opposition parties would also be consulted in the matter of opening of mosques during the coronavirus pandemic.

About opening the construction industry, he said the decision was taken to protect the economic interest of the daily-wage labourers, adding that the PM Imran Khan had announced an unprecedented relief package of Rs 1,200 billion to provide financial support to 102 million people. On strategy to fight such pandemics, Afridi said, “Coronavirus does not have a religion or ethnic identity, all pilgrims and preachers are Pakistanis and the government is taking care of them. We must fight this pandemic as a nation by getting together and setting aside all differences”.

To a question, he said no one was above the law in Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) and even Prime Minister Imran Khan was answerable before the law, adding that the government was committed to providing justice to all and sundry in the country by all means under a free judiciary.

About Rana Sanaullah, the State Minister on Narcotics said PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah was using delaying tactics to avoid trial in the court of law, adding that all evidence had been submitted before the court and Rana Sanaullah could not hoodwink law.

 

Sheharyar Afridi lauded the media men for their bravery and commitment to fight COVID-19 pandemic,  adding that the media was the fourth pillar of state and they were in the forefront of the war on coronavirus pandemic.

He urged the media to continue to play its constructive role in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and avoid spreading panic.

Speaking on the occasion, Tableeghi Jamaat Shoora Chairman Dr. Nadeem thanked the government for its support to safeguard the health of preachers in all parts of the world, adding that Minister of State Sheharyay Afridi had worked round the clock to take care of the preachers in all parts of the country. Dr. Nadeem said the Tableeghi Jamaat Shoora had taken the decision in the national interest and most of the preachers had returned home after their screening tests reports were negative,

he said that all government agencies had extended their fullest cooperation with the Tableeghi Jamaat preachers and assisted them with medical and travel facilities.

To a question, he said a contingent of 237 Tableeghi Jamaat preachers from Afghanistan returned to their country on Tuesday after screening.